A worldwide comparison of the best sites for submillimetre astronomy
Paper in proceedings, 2012
Over the past few years a major effort has been put into the exploration of potential sites for the deployment of submillimetre (submm) astronomical facilities. Amongst the most important sites are Dome C and Dome A on the Antarctic Plateau, and the Chajnantor area in Chile. In this context, we report on measurements of the sky opacity at 200 μm over a period of three years at the French-Italian station, Concordia, at Dome C, Antarctica. Based on satellite data, we present a comparison of the atmospheric transmission at 200, 350 μm between the best potential/known sites for submillimetre astronomy all around the world. The precipitable water vapour (PWV) was extracted from satellite measurements of the Infrared Atmospheric Sounding Interferometer (IASI) on the METOP-A satellite, between 2008 and 2010. We computed the atmospheric transmission at 200 μm and 350 μm using the forward atmospheric model MOLIERE (Microwave Observation LIne Estimation and REtrieval). This method allows us to compare known sites all around the world without the calibration biases of multiple in-situ instruments, and to explore the potential of new sites.